30 July, 2007

"Now on BBC1, it's 5.35pm which means it's time for..."

...what exactly?

When Neighbours defects to Channel Five, just what kind of programme will inherit that all-important pre-news teatime berth? There's been talk of Waterloo Road getting revamped as a daily soap. Revised repeats of River City have been discussed. One up-to-no-good rumour-monger even mooted the possibility of Phil Redmond launching a new teen drama in the slot, which is just too hideous to contemplate.

No, a proposition of a far more recognisable, familiar feel is called for. And assuming there's the money for something other than repeats of The Flintstones, a number of alternatives suggest themselves:


A bright and breezy soap set in London's Australian ex-pat community, where a friendly wave of the hand helps to make the perfect blend of neighbourliness, and where people are there for one and another. Leading a star cast of more than a few familiar faces is Alan Dale, who plays the gruff patriach of a sprawling family clan comprising Stefan Dennis, Anne Scott-Pendlebury, Natalie Imbruglia, Jason Donovan, Mark Little, Dannii Minogue, Kylie Flinker, Melissa Bell, Kristian Schmid and Peta Brady, with special guest appearances by Alan Fletcher and Terence Donovan, and a very special guest appearance by Norman Coburn.


Rolf uncaps his fat marker pens once again to celebrate the finest animation of the last 100 years - now including such contemporary classics as Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butthead, Capitol Critters and Watch My Chops. All finished drawings will be donated to local hospitals.


The ups and downs of life at a Bristol comprehensive, where having fun and struggling to grow up are two subjects very much on the curriculum. An unusually high accident rate means the school bears witness to more than a few visits from staff of the local accident and emergency department - but that's OK, because as luck would have it, most of them send their kids to Holby High anyway!


Angela Rippon is back to front a new nationwide hunt for the country's finest amateur quizmasters - only this time, she's looking to tap the cream of the UK's interactive community. Teams comprising members of fan websites, mailing lists and discussion groups will join Angela in the studio to battle their way through the infamous pot pourri round ("After all this time, I *still* don't know what we're going to get!" quips Angela), while viewers at home will be able to join in via the red button whenever they hear the cry "Let's play - or press!"


Dominic Wood and Claudia Winkleman host a fast and furious son of The One Show, packed with live music, special guests, on-the-spot reports and lots and lots of surprises. There'll be recipes, TV previews, real life stories from around the country and chat with all your favourite BBC faces...plus Adrian Chiles popping in from time to time to help out. Your essential teatime appetiser.

29 July, 2007

Mike Reid RIP

Giving it the lobster no more.

28 July, 2007

Paddy Haycocks rides again

The spirit of Channel 4's late 80s/early 90s on-the-hoof marvel As It Happens has been reborn in the unlikely guise of BBC News 24's flood coverage.

The channel's usual problem of how to fill up endless news coverage when there's no news has been solved, temporarily at least, thanks to its battery of reporter-presenters making the most of their undignified and damp surroundings with a portable microphone and cameras with the longest leads in the world.

Day after day they have been on air just, well, wandering aimlessly. They go wherever their feet take them. The camera dutifully follows. The anchors back in the studio let them get on with it. And viewers get to see whatever, well, happens.

Down streets, in and out of shops, along pavements, through fields - it just goes on and on and on. Whomever gets in their way they stop and interview. If someone drifts by in the background on a dinghy they turn and hail them for a chat.

They pop into Tesco to see if bottled water is still on sale. They knock on people's front doors to have a peek at the debris. And if anything goes wrong, if someone falls over, or someone swears, or someone doesn't want to have a microphone shoved into their face and asked 'how are you feeling' when it's quite fucking obvious to the entire world, It Doesn't Matter. For this is a Crisis. And when a Crisis happens, things inevitably go wrong, but it's forgivable, because it's all part of The Blitz Spirit, and a sign that Britain Is Pulling Together.

As It Happens was a fantastic idea, both in its low-key daytime incarnation (Paddy strolling round central London talking to tourists, hawkers and street urchins) and its Friday night grown-up version (Andy Kershaw and Pete McCarthy beamed live from foreign cities being forever stood up by local contacts and harangued by passing malcontents).

It's utterly bizarre that its low-cost public-as-celebrities unscripted unpredictable content is not back in Channel 4's schedules. For one thing it'd be cheaper than paying for repeats of How Clean Is Your House and A Place In the Sun.

Besides, a sane mind can only take so much of Chris Eakin in galoshes or Rajesh Mirchandani standing in the deepest puddle he can find. Send Paddy Haycocks to Tewkesbury - NOW!

25 July, 2007

Photo clippage #22

It's May 1988, and the Beeb decide to publicise their new computerised forward-looking high-tech weather maps...by dressing their forecasters up in the most antiquated garb in the costume department.

23 July, 2007

The Macca video jukebox: part eight


Paul goes to Hollywood. Well, Cricklewood.

a) This was the smash hit single to promote the smash flop film Give My Regards To Broad Street, both of which were released in 1984.
b) David Gilmour from Pink Floyd is on squealing lead guitar duties.
c) An alternate version, bravely subtitled 'Special Dance Mix', was also released and can be heard, should you last that long, over the film's end credits.

a) The prelude, with Paul apparently in the guise of a cinema projectionist, busy making a mug of tea and trying to place a telephone call. Suddenly a cat scuttles up a nearby staircase and, whistling a strangely familiar tune, our hero follows.
b) A classic Macca head wobble essayed on the very first line.
c) The many clips from Give My Regards To Broad Street, which are probably more entertaining than the film itself. Heaven knows what's actually going on here, but there's some business involving Macca as a Victorian gentleman trying to rescue Ringo and Linda from sailing over a waterfall before being hunted through the smoky streets by a sinister Moriarty figure. Then there's a New Romantic electro-discotheque sequence. There's also a ballroom dancing display being invaded by some 1950s rockabillies, Paul in a taxi being watched by ladies of the night, and a tiny bit of sampled dialogue ("A box" "A big blue one") which presumably is central to the film's original plot.
d) Our man on the roof watching London alternately light up and blackout.
e) Paul trilling his way through the chorus being accompanied by a massive fireworks display.
f) The fantastic giant neon sign which first spells out ROAD TREE before cunningly expanding to declare BROAD STREET.

VERDICT: Folly. And another. And another.

20 July, 2007

New New Popmaster

You can't keep a good phone-in down.

"We're going to bring Popmaster back," announced Ken Bruce on air this morning. "We're not going to have members of the public taking part in it. Instead we're going to have BBC staff taking part in it. Explain that to me. But we're allowed to do that. No prizes and you may not phone in for it."

The BBC staff apparently turned out to be none other than Jeremy Vine and Lynn Bowles. History fails to record how each of them did and who won, or rather who didn't win, the usual digital radio.

Here, though, is clearly an answer to the Beeb's current predicament. Hearing Steve Wright being forced to take part in rather than merely host his misnamed Big Quiz would be almost worth sitting through a whole half hour of not-non-stop oldies. Almost.

19 July, 2007

Photo clippage #21

Can it really only be 10 not-long-enough years since Learner Driver From Hell Maureen Rees gave masterclasses in car maintenance as part of BBC1's new daytime fixture The Really Useful Show presented by Tony Morris and Ruth Langsford?

18 July, 2007


In last week's TV Cream Times my colleague Steve wondered whether the characters of Malcolm and Jamie in The Thick Of It liked or hated each other.

It has to be the former - albeit a liking built on immense competition, petulant point-scoring and evermore outlandish deployment of profanity. Their (initial) backing of separate leadership contenders in the most recent episode was really just an amplified playground spat. And slagging each other off - "You are a pint...pot...Judas!" - is surely a way of further unnerving whichever numerous ministerial charges are looking on. Besides, how could they hate each other *and* hate everyone else at the same time?

Anyway, I don't want them to dislike each other, because that would spoil this kind of fun:

16 July, 2007

"And the outlook is...five more months at number one!"

One of the many things to fall by the wayside along with badly-printed jagged-edged Radio Times pages and Ice Magic have been mainstream TV comedy shows that feature spoofs of contemporary chart hits.

They simply don't exist anymore. They have vanished. Which is unfortunate given there are still, and always will be, plenty of chart hits in need of spoofing.

The present number one single is a case in point. Now that it's been around so long even your aunt and uncle will have heard about it, Rihanna's 'Umbrella' would make for a splendid pastiche material.

Think of the scene: a well-known entertainer/artiste in ludicrous exagerrated make-up strolls down a rainy, windy street, trying to strut and writhe and the like, only for their brolly to get blown inside out. Then they fall over. Then someone splashes them. Then there's a reference to Singing In The Rain. Then there's a reference to Morecambe and Wise doing Singing In The Rain. Then they fall over again. Then they do a rap about being so long at number one and how they wish the sun would come out so they could stop having to carry an umbrella everywhere. Then two dozen people try and crowd under the umbrella leaving them out in the rain. Finally Daniel Corbett comes on and forecasts...20 more weeks at the top of the chart.

At which point our singer tosses the brolly away and shouts "I'm off to Milletts to buy a bloody kagoul!"

14 July, 2007

"The Edwina Currie award for unashamed femininity goes to..."

"...Yasmin Arafat!"

It's been a long wait for this to turn up online. Look out for the:

1) turn-of-the-decade datestamping reference to Polly Peck
2) Clive pretending to be in Wembley Stadium ("Happy new year, Clive!")
3) The bit of business with Pavarotti ("Over here! Behind you!")

12 July, 2007

Nigel Dempster RIP

A big gossip columnist of the 20th century, and an even bigger gossip columnist of the...ah.

11 July, 2007

The fun starts one hour earlier

David Pascoe has written in with a pertinent cutting.

"Saw this in the Falmouth Packet a few weeks back," he explains, "and thought it might tickle you. Notice how he's taken to manhandling one poor kid in order to make sure that SOMEONE is taking notice of him.

"P.S. The girl sat behind the white suited wonder was in my form at secondary school. Her name is Maria Grimshaw."

09 July, 2007

TV Cream: investors in people

In the spring of 2004, TV Cream compiled its own version of the Media Guardian's annual Movers And Shakers list. Except it ran to 50 people, not 100. And was somewhat skewed towards folk we, well, would have liked to have met in real life.

Seeing as how the Guardian has just published its latest countdown, it's a suitable moment to see how TVC's feted heroes have faired over the course of three and a bit years. Only the top ten, mind. The really important ones.

Still hanging on at the Beeb, albeit increasingly playing the role of an avuncular figurehead and management away-day off-site conference after-dinner raconteur. He's still doing Imagine, though, and pops up with a bon mot whenever anyone dares slag off Auntie's arts and culture output.

Dunno about this. 'He' was the editor of the Beano in early 2004. Not having read a copy of late (or, indeed, ever), the whereabouts of this mildly amusing nom de plume are unclear.

Oh dear. Poor Rich is now out on his arse having slipped up big time when a 'junior researcher' (always to blame when something goes wrong) got a child to impersonate another child for the benefit of a phone-in competition. So far the affair has cost Marson his job and, as of today, the BBC a massive £50,000. Still, perhaps there won't be so many shameless Dr Who plugs now he's gone.

Things aren't looking good for Ash at the minute, largely due to all the faffing and fussing going on with the iPlayer: a fantastic idea, and one which, if Greg Dyke had still been in charge, would have been up and running years ago. Instead the BBC nabobs have been dragging their heels and Highfield's empire looks increasingly under threat.

On the up. He's since swapped the job of controller of BBC4 for the same post at BBC2, and seems settled into a long-term residency at Shepherd's Bush. All his decent shows keep getting nicked by BBC1, however, leaving him to make do with pinching stuff off BBC3 like - erk - Torchwood.

Still soldiering on and being brilliant. He was even persuaded to leave the Today studio for a bit last year and do a tour of duty in Iraq.

Now come on. One man can only hide away for so long. Merely whiling away the hours and millions of pounds isn't helping anyone, let alone fans of decent British telly, like Greg's mum. Somebody give him a job, for god's sake. How about editor of Blue Peter?

Not so ubiquitous as he was in 2004, but then he is getting on. 2007's not been a vintage year either, with his show Rolf's Star Portraits getting axed and one too many demented mass 'happenings' in Trafalgar Square.

Officially dissolved. While Dom's been busy cheerfully turning his hand to panel shows, reality TV spin-offs and wacky science, Dick has just sulked. Fame: a cruel mistress, and not that much of a wife either.

Ouch. Never underestimate a Grade's penchant for a bit of behind-the-scenes treachery. Pretty much everyone at the BBC was pissed off when Mike legged it for ITV last Christmas. He claims he now feels "at home". Sure enough, pretty soon that legendary Grade cheque book was being waved in the faces of the Football Association. Whether his equally legendary feel for populist TV and the black arts of scheduling can do any good at the ITV of 2007, though, remains to be seen. Especially as nothing is any good at the ITV of 2007.

Read the 2004 list.

08 July, 2007

It's one o'clock and time for lunch

Opening yesterday's Live Earth concert in London, Genesis greeted the thousands of fans in Wembley stadium and the tens of thousands watching on telly with...a seven-minute long instrumental.

Not, perhaps, the most engaging or inclusive approach to an international charity initiative. Especially as the instrumental in question was over 25 years old.

It did give Phil a chance to work up a bit of steam on the drums, or "the kit" as he'd no doubt call it, even though there was another drummer on stage at the same time, presumably in case Buster missed a beat or got a bit tired. Well, seven minutes is a long time without any vocals. Just ask the audience.

It was, however, a bit lame of Sir Collins not to essay a few lyrics while wielding the sticks. Ringo Starr always did his singing and drumming simultaneously, perhaps so the one could better distract from the other (or vice versa).

Anyhow, in the vague chance of folk being mildly intrigued by what the lads got up to before they became Phil Collins And His Backing Band (i.e. before they went shit), here are five essential Genesis songs. Giant fox head and accompanying red dress not included.

1) Selling England By The Pound
State-of-the-nation epic from 1973, with Pete holding forth on Green Shield Stamps, Wimpy and Old Father Time, plus beautiful ambient noodling tacked on the end for good measure.

2) I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)
The hit. Some Neil Tennant-esque "rapping" and an oboe-led wig-out. "Me, I'm just a lawnmower, you can tell me by the way I walk."

3) The Carpet Crawlers
Eerie perambulation through the recesses of Pete's mind accompanied by the sublimest harmonies ever.

4) Mad Man Moon
A Collins-voiced tribute to Gabriel, the saddest song the group has ever done, and that's even with a brief burst of Cockernee Phil in the middle.

5) Blood On The Rooftops
The Yom Kippur War, late night discussion shows with David Dimbleby, and the joys of making a cup of tea. What more do you need?

07 July, 2007

Carriage return

Last Saturday's episode of Jekyll found our hero(es) taking a short train journey - but doing so in a carriage more suited to a 1970s sitcom than a 21st century drama.

For some reason James Nesbitt boarded one of those old-fashioned doors-opening-outwards compartment contraptions with seats facing each other like in a Two Ronnies sketch. Yet the carriage appeared bedecked with contemporary accoutrements such as timetables and safety information. And the stations it passed through had modern ticketing machines.

This wasn't some deliberate anachronism, as far as it was possible to tell; on the contrary, it was a proper bona fide working train running on proper tracks, albeit with doors like you get on kitchen pantries from the Edwardian era.

Such baffling sights are few and far between nowadays. There's an episode of One Foot In The Grave which occasionally gets repeated in which Victor travels in a similar Two Ronnies-esque carriage, replete with really shoddy background CSO. There are probably countless examples in Last Of The Summer Wine as well, especially given how all the cast are too old to ride in public transport (but not tin baths).

Apart from that, no other recent instances of small screen antiquated locomotive upholstery spring to mind. Maybe there's one ancient relic that lives in a siding somewhere, permanently hosed down with magic sealant like the Mary Rose to hold it in one piece, kept alive exclusively so that the BBC can hire it out from time to time.

A bit like Tom Fleming.

05 July, 2007

George Melly RIP

This is from 1987, when George did a turn on Yorkshire TV's anniversary special The Birthday Show (at 7pm on a Saturday night, mark you). It says here he honoured the occasion with a song bearing the title 'It Be Jelly, Cos Jam Don't Shake Like That'.

03 July, 2007

Woolton fete accompli

Radio 4 has been endlessly running the same trailer for its When John Met Paul effort. That's a different When John Met Paul to the one that was on Radio 2 the other week, and the one which will no doubt be on 6 Music next week and every second week until Christmas, when they'll air that Andy Peebles thing again.

Truth be told, the day Winston O'Boogie first met Macca was of far less consequence than other epihanies in both men's respective careers. Besides, given their mutual interest in the Liverpool late 50s music scene they would've bumped into each other soon enough, Woolton fete or no Woolton fete.

Of far more importance, and far less likely to receive documentary treatment on any radio network any time soon, are:

- the day Paul discovered how he could simultaneously wobble his head and sing with his mouth open in an 'O' shape
- the day John dreamed up a lyric that managed to rhyme "know the time" with "glad that I'm" (extra points to any reader for naming the song)*
- the day Paul discovered reggae (without which 'C Moon' would sadly not exist)
- the day John failed not to discover the avant-garde (without which 'Revolution 9' would mercifully not exist)
- the day Paul moved into that house just round the corner from Abbey Road (not least so it meant the boys could pop back to his place whenever anything decent was on the telly)
- the day John moved as far away from Abbey Road as he could (which convenienty also got him out of the country)
- the day Yoko lost her voice (well, here's hoping)
- the day Heather lost £45m (ditto)

*Actually, just extra points to any reader.

01 July, 2007

"Absolutely fantastic performance"

This could well be the single finest Top Of The Pops turn of all time: the Pet Shop Boys doing 'Can You Forgive Her?' in 1993.

Neil sits atop a workman's stepladder in an orange jumpsuit and conical hat, while Chris hatches from inside a giant blue egg, surveys the audience through a striped telescope, then proceeds to do some ballroom dancing with a trio of cricket bat-wielding silver-bodiced sirens.

Watch the audience run, perhaps desperately, into the waiting arms of what sounds to me like Chaka Demus and Pliers.